Yesterday I was catching up with an Adivasi Christian friend asking how they were doing during the Covid 19 pandemic. They described some of their difficulties, and some of the things people are doing to deal with it, and then added, "But we are wondering how we are going to celebrate the Holy Days, such as Easter!" I was reminded of how Easter is celebrated in Jharkhand amongst the Adivasi Christians. It was truly the most wonderful Easter I had ever experienced. The people gather at the church before sun rise on Easter morning and procession to the grave yard and celebrate the promise of resurrection with the ancestors who have gone before them by decorating the graves with whitewash, candles and flowers. It is a community celebration.
Sad to think that this year such an important celebration for this community would not be held, I answered: "I guess we will have to celebrate it like Jesus' disciples did. Locked up in our own upper rooms."
Think about it, they were isolated from the world. In some cases, such as with Thomas, separated from each other. They were fearful of what was going on, what would happen next. Fearful for their lives, fearful for how their association with (exposure to) Jesus might impact their loved ones. They were forgetful, so that when two of them took a walk to get away from it all (on the road to Emmaus) Jesus showed up and had to remind them of everything that has happened in the world since the beginning of time, reminding them that they were all called for such a time as this. Those two guys were heading back to "business as usual" and they were reminded, from now on things are not going to be normal. "Behold, I am beginning a new thing!"
We may not be able to congregate for easter, but we will celebrate it, by experiencing what it was like (maybe just a little bit) on that first Easter, in lockdown in our own upper rooms. We will need to be reminded about humility, mercy and justice that God requires of us, as we become his hands and feet, mouth piece and ears, for those who are suffering far more than we are. We are going to find that eventually we can go out, like Peter and John did when they eventually ventured out to the temple. They told the man begging on the side of the road, "We don't have any money, but this is what we do have." And they shared not only a message of hope, but got the man up on his feet, "singing and shouting and praising God."
Those of you who have the resurrection hope inside, you know this is a time to "let go and let God" (to use an AA phrase) this is the time to say" "I'm here Lord, use me.". This is the time to listen, to respond, to be imaginative, to be bold. You can do that and stay well, stay safe. There are so many little ways we can move outside of ourselves and our isolation and truly celebrate the hope of the abundant life that was promised to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
We may not be able to gather on the streets to shout in our King of KIngs, Lord of Lords, my Christian brothers and sisters. We may not be able to gather for our sunrise services. We may not fill our churches buildings.
There may be other uses for our time and buildings and networks that can help those who God so loved that He died for. We are the church, not a building. It may be that some of our church buildings will need to be converted into quarantine facilities, it may be that some of us will have to be on the front lines helping out in hospitals, it may be that we need to welcome in strangers who have no place to stay, it may be that we have to start doing some of those difficult things that Jesus suggested while he was walking on the earth. It is most definitely a time to pray, not just to mutter and peep, but to really confess our own complicancy, really cry out for mercy, really weep for the pain others are suffering, really ask for "God's will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven." And......yes......to celebrate Easter!
These musings include the journey of my writing on the history of my great great grandparents and the travels for research to India, Germany and other places of interest.